Not all mothers are being pampered today. Each year more than 2.5 million American women experience domestic violence and approximately 325,000 of them are pregnant.
For many women, abuse first begins during pregnancy, with women of all races about equally vulnerable. Of those assaulted before pregnancy, half will be attacked again afterward. Although emotional distress, low self-esteem, teen pregnancy, single status, lower education level, unemployment, and unplanned pregnancy may increase the risk of assault, every woman is potentially at risk.
Domestic abuse and violence against pregnant women has immediate and lasting effects. While some of the complications you might suspect are present, such as immediate injury to the woman or her baby, there are also other effects on the pregnancy.
Many women who are battered during pregnancy will continue unhealthy habits due to stress, such as smoking, resorting to drug use and improper nutritional habits. These also affect the pregnancy.
Physical impact of abuse during pregnancy include:
- Injury to the uterus
- Miscarriage, stillbirth or premature baby
- Getting a dangerous vaginal infection from forced or unprotected sex with someone who has an infection
- Increased first and second trimester bleeding
Violence also increases the baby's risk of:
- Weighing too little at birth
- Having trouble nursing or taking a bottle
- Having sleeping problems
- Being harder to comfort than other babies
- Having problems learning to walk, talk and learn normally
- Experiencing lasting emotional trauma
- Being physically and sexually abused
- Being hurt during a fight